Country Walking – A Life-long Love
Walking: good for your body, mind and connecting with family.
Date: 8 March 2023 Author: Energise Me
After worrying about a fitness test at work, Amy decided to take matters into her own hands. So, she decided to start running. It wasn’t an easy journey, but with a bit of self-belief she now thinks: ‘bring it on!’
As a custodial manager at a prison, we have to do a fitness test. Over the years, I put loads of weight on and every year it became a real struggle. I used to get very anxious about it because I put so much pressure on myself – my whole livelihood depended on it. I tried to go the gym, but I just did not like it. However, I knew I had to do something.
If people laugh at me at least I’m out there doing it. I’m not sitting on the couch doing nothing. I’m looking after me.
Last March, I started the Couch to 5K. I’ve never ever been a runner – I couldn’t run for more than a minute. To begin with, I was too embarrassed about running outside so instead I used a treadmill at home. After 30 seconds, I’d have to stop. But, slowly and consistently, I could last a little bit longer. The more I did the more I realised, I actually enjoy running.
My first run outdoors was really nerve-wracking. I was worried about the road and about people seeing me, judging. When I came home to my husband, I told him I hated it. I absolutely hated it. But after a while, running on the machine wasn’t enough. My friend suggested attending Parkrun with them. Reluctantly, I agreed.
Now, I hate the running machine. I love going out. I got over those fears by reminding myself: ‘if people laugh at me at least I’m out there doing it. I’m not sitting on the couch doing nothing. I’m looking after me.’
While running, it’s just me. I’m doing it. This was completely my achievement. And I’m so proud of that.
My first Parkrun was a huge step for me. Leading up to it, I was so nervous and fearful of the unknown, but it was fantastic! Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. Honestly, I did walk quite a bit, but I just refused to give up.
Gradually, I started to see my times get quicker and quicker. The overall aim was to get the course done in under 30 minutes, which at the time didn’t seem possible. On my last run, I did it in 29 minutes 33 seconds! Growing up, I rode horses and competed, but that was always down to the horse. While running, it’s just me. I’m doing it. This was completely my achievement. And I’m so proud of that.
I enjoyed Parkrun so much, I eventually joined 2 running clubs. My previous perception of which was that it was filled with speedy people who were fit and everyone would laugh at me. But that’s so untrue. Everyone is so lovely and welcoming. Everyone wants everyone to succeed.
If I hadn’t done Parkrun and hadn’t joined the two running clubs, I probably wouldn’t have carried on. I would have made excuses and stayed home instead. Now, there’s an excitement attached to it because I get to see my friends. So much so, I try to arrange my shifts so that I can have some cheeky Tuesday and Thursday evenings off to join them on the road.
It has become such an important part of my life. It makes me feel like a healthier person, a more positive person
Running has morphed into more than just exercise. When I’ve had a bad day at work, getting outside gives me the time to rationalise and gain perspective. Before, I would have sat and stewed. After a run, I come home and think what I do in the future is more important than what’s happened in the past. All I can do is look at ways to improve moving forward, and that’s what I’ve done.
My husband is fantastic – he will stay at home and look after our son so that I can go running. He’s encouraged me the whole time and he too has seen the change in me. It has become such an important part of my life. It makes me feel like a healthier person, a more positive person. For the first time, I’m like ‘yeah, I can do it.’ And that is such a rarity for me to say because previously I’ve suffered from crippling self-doubt.
It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go, just moving forward is progress. It’s about setting up little goals for yourself. My husband and I did that at one point by breaking the running route down. We would run two lamp posts then walk two. Then the next time, we would run three lamp posts and walk one. And by the end, we had progressed so much that we were able to run all the way there and back.
This January, I did my first 10k race. I was so scared because I’d never run that far before. But everyone was so nice and supportive. Crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings. It just made me want to do more. And I did. Now, I have a half marathon planned in April.
It’s believing that you can do it in the first place.
Everybody can run. I’ve realised that because it’s not about the end result, it’s about the little moments in between. You may think trainers are the most important piece of equipment, but they’re not. It’s believing that you can do it in the first place.
If you keep pushing yourself with those little goals, you can achieve anything. That first step is daunting, but once you’ve taken that, you never look back. The world opens up to you. Running might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but physical activity should be whatever makes you happy and makes you feel good. That’s what you need to concentrate on.